Saturday, April 29, 2006


Antje is Alissa's college roommate from her freshman year at UDel. I fell in love with one of her songs from her very first tape ten years ago.

I was a full-on Antje groupie before I met her a few years ago at a small show in Philly. Her song "Long Way" became my personal soundtrack when I moved to Florida. Her song "Anna" makes me cry, and then it makes me call my Nanny (who is doing much better and not totally hating the nursing home these days, as she made two friends and is going to the dining hall for meals now and likes the hairdresser and met a nice man who is cute for being 80-something, except he's deaf but supposedly he smiles a lot, which is nice- You know? When I write it like that, it sounds like I'm talking about someone in their freshman year of college, if the cute guy were 18 instead of 80).

ANYWAY, I did a photo shoot for Antje and tonight she released her first ever polished studio-recorded CD at a concert in Boston. She was amazing tonight. I offered to document the evening for her, and got to sit right up front and took a lot of photos, which I will share with you here soon. I'm so awed and touched. She was mobbed- MOBBED I tell you- at intermission with people wanting autographs and to tell her stories of how her music touched their lives and I felt so lucky to sort of be a part of it, to see it, and hear her and watch it unfold it and know that this is really, really, really just the beginning of amazing things for her.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Water... (cough cough)... Water

You know the old iconic image standby of a man in a desert, crawling toward an oasis, croaking "Water... Water.."?

I've been trying for the last five minutes to figure out where this pop culture reference I'm referring to originates, but I can't remember. It's spoofed in a lot of cartoons, commercials, maybe even that scene in National Lampoon's Vacation where Chevy Chase is trying to get his family to WallyWorld and their car breaks down and he wanders through the desert with a pair of pants on his head? You know? I'm like that right now.

I am in the midst of My Biggest Project EverTM. Thousands of jpegs. Hours of sound clips. KILLING. ME. I.. can't.. go on...

No, wait! You know who I am? I'm not Chevy Chase in "Vacation." I'm Steve Martin in "The Three Amigos" in the jail scene where El Guapo chains him in the jail, and he takes one laborious step.. then another... and the chains strain.. and then whappity-whappity-whappity he gets flung back against the brick wall. You know? Anybody? that is so me right now.

I want my mommy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What I Did On My Spring Vacation

Yosemite photos, now in slideshow form! (Can you tell today is Slide Show Saturday?) I used up all my updownloaded space at flickr with the wedding, so I'm experimenting with a shutterfly show. Click here, please.

Wedding Slide Show

Just a heads up that there is a sneak preview slide show for Becky and Geoff's wedding viewable here.

You can also access the flickr set page from there to see slighly less pixelated images, or you can go to the main web page here, where I will be updating more frequently now that I have actually gone through and edited all 1,000+ photos Joel and I shot. MMM... long plane trips....

Flickr has not yet devised away to set their slide shows to music, but I recommend watching it while listening to "Feel It Turn" by Great Big Sea or a favorite romantic song of your own choosing. Or just listening carefully, and you might just hear me humming it all the way from New York. ;)


Vote for Pedro... I mean, Luke

Hi. You should all go vote for Luke (the cute baby, not the cute*** college friend).


1. It would make my friends Jackie and Rob happy. I don't even think they win anything, like a year's supply of diapers or a free BabyZone bib. It would only win them personal happiness and a certain online "street cred" for Luke, which will inspire him to wage world peace, cure cancer in every form and definitively determine once and for all how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

2. You all said you liked other pictures of His Cuteness when I posted them before. Yes, you did.

3. Luke cannot lose to kids named "Jace" and "Alessa" and "Nolin." No. Just no.

4. Because I took this photo, and I am freakishly competitive about photo contests. No, really. Even though I only swam on swim team as an 8-and-under because I hated competing, quit horseback-riding lessons when my teacher would. not. let the notion of showing go, and rather casually withdrew my name as from the final round of Fulbright judging, I WANT TO WIN BABYZONE.COM's MONTLY PHOTO CONTEST. Like, A LOT. This is why I only compete in contests when editors enter my work, as in, they cut out the clip and submit it for me. Winning photo contests is like crack/cocaine to me. I'm dancing on the edge here, people.

*** sort of. when he showers. ;)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

No Words

to describe the beauty. Just photos. And the somewhat awesome thought that as we live our full, busy lives in other places, the sun comes up and the sun goes down everyday in beautiful places like this and in every other beautiful place I've been.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Greetings from my vacation!

The youth hostel
where Joel and I are staying has high-speed Internet access, so I'm not completely unplugged. We're having a blast. It rained all day today, but we had an amazing encounter with a herd of deer (yearling bucks? I think?)

We're getting up at Stupid O'Clock in the morning to shoot the sunrise, which means I should probably stop drinking this regular Coke... (slurp). I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wedding Songs

Okay. Now that I have given my paltry piece of evidence- make, model, license plate # and approximate location of the McDonald's mentioned below- to the good people of Maryland, and, to quote my mom, "covered [the little girls I saw] in prayer," - if I prayed, which... I sort of do, in a nebulous new agey way... allow me to talk about the many good things about my weekend.

First of all, I photographed Cool Aunt Becky's wedding in Baltimore. Although... back to the Bad and Sad thing for a second, one of the reasons seeing what I saw was as jarring as it was was partly because I spent time with Shannon's family.

Their daughter Gaby is one of the happiest, brightest children I've ever met. She is so loved.

The wedding was beautiful, it really was. Joel assisted as a second photographer and made some lovely photographs. This is in no way surprising, because as I said months ago, he's damn good. On the other hand, he prefers to shoot, you know, rocks and stuff. So his nicely executed photos are worth mentioning.

As the groom's father wished his son and his bride-to-be luck in a toast at the rehearsal dinner, he told us all about Becky and Geoff restoring their house and how well they worked together. He also shared that Cool Aunt Becky the Bride's mom is a minister. She does pre-marriage counselling sessions with the couples she marries, and in that context, recommends that they take on a big, important project together before they tie the knot. The father of the groom ended his toast by saying something to the effect of.. "I know my son is marrying the right woman. You should see how they scrape paint together."

Joel caught my eye across the room, and we grinned. At that point, having gotten up early (not my best thing) , gently loading the Studio Backdrop of Doom into the car, and playing two rounds of "Where the hell is my wallet?" before changing into Burger King Ketchup-free clothes for the rehearsal and dinner three states away, it was clear that this was a Big and Important Project for us as a couple.

And we did it. We even had fun. After every wedding I go to, I tend to find myself humming one of the songs from the reception that stays with me. Some of these songs are available from iTunes; some aren't. Some songs I knew of before the wedding; some are new. None of them are typically wedding-y, but they make me happy. They fill me with hope. You should listen to them, too.

In chronological order....

From Andrea and Don: Believe it or not, the "Tarantella," the Italian "yut da dut da, dut da-da" song
From H and Kevin: "Passionate Kisses" (not even played at the reception; I sang it for them at the karoake bar next door afterwards)
From Kristen and Adam: "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack
From Amanda and Tom: "Crazy Love" by Ray Charles and "Can't Stop Loving You" by Van Halen
From Nikki and Jill: "Magnolia Street" by Catie Curtis
From Shauna and Bob: "Storybook Love" (theme from the movie "The Princess Bride") and "King of Spain" by Moxy Fruvous
From Kelly and Michael: "Watercolors" by Emily Strand
From Becky and Geoff: "Feel It Turn" by Great Big Sea

As I was shooting the Happy Couple in their first dance to "Feel It Turn," I looked up to see Joel on the balcony, standing behind the tripod, cable release in one hand, flashing me the" I Love You in Sign Language" gesture in the other.

"I had a dream I was moving forward, floating gently toward the sun
I come to see my world rewarded, a new day has begun."
Feel it Turn, Great Big Sea

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Uncomfortable Turtle

At some point during the Winter Olympics, Alissa told me about an interview with an athlete she saw on TV. I guess Katie Couric was interviewing a downhill skier of some kind about his run, and he said something like, "I'm sorry; these interviews make me really nervous." So Katie Couric tried to relax him and rephrase her question, and his response- in a singsong voice- was, "Uncomfortable tur-tle!" while making a turtle-esque hand gesture. It's kind of like the "Quiet Fox" thing that elementary school teachers do when they want you to quiet down. Personally, I always thought that looked like the death metal gesture aka sign of the devil.

Anyway, I'm beyond digression here, and I have yet to even describe the thing that made me so uncomfortable.

Right. So. I was at a McDonald's just off I-95 in suburban Maryland this weekend, throwing out a really embarrassing amount of trash that accumulated in my car on a road trip over the weekend. Joel was inside, buying himself a burger and me an ice cream cone. I'm shoving the trash into the bin when the door opens and two small girls, both about 3 years old, are hustled out by their mother.

One child is crying really hard. Then I see that her mother is all but CARRYING her by her hair. Her mother doesn't have her by the ear, not by her shoulder in a no-nonsense, "I said no more whining, young lady, now MARCH" way. The child is hustling on her tippy toes. It looks so painful, my heart skipped a beat. The mother proceeds to berate her daughter, standing over her in a very intimidating way, shouting right into her face, while the other child climbs meekly into the car.

I'm full-on staring now; I don't even care. The mother slaps her child, HARD, across the head. I reach for a pen and paper and write down the license plate #. Then she shakes her, and spanks her- WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM- four times before she grabs her by the arm and shoves her into the car. My hands are reaching for my cell phone to call 911. I'm scared. I can't imagine how the little girl feels, but I'm most afraid because she slows to a whimper, limply defeated.

And yet, I'm not sure what I'm seeing. I wish Joel would come back and see this, too, and give me his opinion. Is this really this bad? Is this really happening? And if it is, should I do something?

The mother straightens up, and says, "I'm sorry you had to see that." I measure my words carefully and say, "Don't apologize to ME." She said, "You don't know what a bad child she is. I get it. You're just an innocent bystander; you're trying to figure it out. She shows me no respect. I had to spank her to make my point. Why don't you mind your own damn business?"

Yes, why don't I? On the other hand, when DO I? I mean, really. And also? YOU ARE BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR KID IN A MCDONALD'S PARKING LOT. We have a little staring contest. I win.

She says, "I love these girls. No harm will ever come to them while they are in my care. I never leave bruises when I hit them." So I said, "Actually, it was when you carried her out by her hair that really caught my attention." And she said, "Oh, that. I make sure when I pull their hair not to pull it hard."

Jigga-WHA?!?! Someone call Kathie Lee, we've got ourselves mother of the year here!

So I make my voice calm and even. "I'm just hope you both get the help you need." And she said, "Me?!?" So I said, "I'm worried about you. You just really seem like you could use an extra pair of hands and maybe some time to yourself." She says, "That's probably true, but you're being kind of rude." She flips me off and slams the door to the driver seat behind her. She has left an open container of Moo Juice, McDonald's novelty milk productTM, on the roof of the car.

In my mind's eye, I see the milk falling, running down the side of the car, making sour rivelets into the three inch space of the open window. Into the backseat. I gesture wildly, pointing at the top of my own milk-free car, calling "Milk!" She stops and sticks her head out. "You left milk on the top of the car." She says, "Okay. Thank you. You're being kind of rude" - yeah, lady, you mentioned that- and peels out of the parking lot (after taking down the milk). Frankly, I just didn't want her taking out her frustration over the milk on her kid. I was still shaky when Joel emerged 3o seconds later.

Have you ever witnessed anything like that? What did you do? Should I have called 911? I can't stop thinking about them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Crash Course

Last weekend I photographed one of Joel's friends who performs semi-professionally as a belly dancer so she would have business cards and promo materials. It gave us an excellent chance to practice using my full studio setup and backdrop with lights, etc.

The gigundo backdrop is about as long as my bitchy little Toyota and requires careful manuevering. The shoot went very well, I'm quite pleased with the photos. Then, when we were loading the backdrop into the car, Joel was guiding and I was pushing, and we created a splendid little disaster.

Me: Okay up there?
Joel: Yeah. Okay, push.
Me: (grunt)
Car: *crack*
Joel: Shit! (silence) It broke your windshield.
Me: What? (looking at splendid sunburst design occupying the space formerly known as "My Intact Windshield.")
Joel: I don't know if I should hug you or start running.
Me: Let's just sit quietly for a minute. In YOUR car.

So we sat. I didn't cry. We split the cost of repairs. The car is fine. Then, like all good Americans with credit card balances, I called my best friend.

Me: You know that backdrop we had to load into my car after Amanda's wedding?
Kel: How could I forget?
Me: Last night I accidentally shoved it through my windshield. Well, either that, or Joel- in his role as the person guiding it- um, guided it through my windshield. Not the whole way through, just enough to crack it.
Kel: Oh, you did not.
Me: I assure you; we did.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I went to a Pinewood Derby recently. I actually have fond memories of the Pinewood Derby, which is a Cub Scout event where the boys make little wooden race cars and send them down a track and earn the Very Important Lesson about Winning and Losing merit badge. My dad was one of the only men in town without sons, so he judged the competition. It's so interesting, watching the kids cheer each other on and win and sulk. You can tell right away which kids "fit in" and which kids kind of don't. My fellow Pennsyltuckians will remember Dav!d Tegme!er. Seems every troop has one.

So I've been reading a lot of the parenting blogs. I read parents' entries about watching their children interact with others and worry about whether or not they will make friends, who they will be, which crowd they will will fit in to. I was... eh, I was always okay. "Fitting in" was really important to me for a long time. Still is, I suppose. I care a lot what people think about me, even though I'm a smartmouth feminist with a "strong personality." Still, I worry when people have to tell me I'm talking too loudly and being the embarrassing "Uncomfortablemacher." That word would be cooler if I could figure out how to make an umlaut (you know, the German vowel dots) over the U. It's a hang-up I might always have, I don't know.

I was the least "popular" girl in the popular cliche in elementary school, the one other kids said was the "nicest." I was a walking target for the Mean Girls in the 7th grade. In 8th grade, I got moved into different classes, an all-honors group of people who became of formative part of who I was academically. I met Kelly, Gwen and the Gang. Jason and Alissa got elevated from Neighborfriends to Friendfriends, and I found a new niche for myself, one that still feels the most, um, niche-iest in my life. But I certainly took my lumps, got called a "fat dyke" in the occasional graffiti scrawl, etc.

I know Joel took his lumps, too. He's smart and shortish, and I know of at least one time when some bastard-children played keep away with his yarmulke and threw it out the window in Hebrew School. I love him. :) My point is, I feel like a lot of the coolest, nicest adults I know were "awkward"-ish, misfit-type kids in elementary school.

I've always said I hope I don't end up being the mom of an UberPopular Cheerleader. I would sooo much rather be the mother of a gay kid and run the local chapter of PFLAG and advocate for stronger enforcement of bullying policies at school board meetings than be the mother of a teenage boy who calls people "faggot" for fun. I would gladly show support for my teenage daughter by signing permission forms for nose-piercing (at the most sanitary piercing place in town, young lady!) than wear a purple polka-dot bow in my hair with the AlphaMeanMoms at the National Cheerleading Championships. Except, in order for your kids to become, say, the cool, sensitive, alterna-chick editor of her high school's literary magazine, she has to get mocked for sucking at field hockey in gym class, and who wants their kids to go through that? Certainly not someone who lived through it once themselves, right?